Dan Dodson – Lead vocal/rhythm guitar, Jamie Moore – Drums/percussion, Andy Manning Lead guitar/backing vocals and Stephen ‘Keano’ Gardner – Bass guitar.
Block 33 are a brand new mod revival influenced band from Hertford in the South of England. The band have really made an impact in a relatively short time, using a crowd funding campaign to fund their debut album “6:36 to Liverpool Street” in the process attracting an already thriving and growing fan base. Their sound is familiarly British but with a unique blend of Brit pop, indie and charging punk rhythms throughout. The album from starts to finish has a diverse blend of melodic vocals and rasping guitars. A great first album and exciting to see where this band could go and what they will do next. Already securing a slot at the famous 100 club in September. An indication that the mod scene is thriving and we welcome this bands addition to the ever growing catalogue of music for modernists.
The Debut album has been released “6:36 to Liverpool street” after a crowdfunding campaign using Indiegogo which was set up to help the band fund the debut albums release. What difficulties have you faced and overcome producing, writing and recording your music and using Indiegogo?
To be honest, the process was pretty painless from start to finish. In terms of the production, we’ve worked with Mitch Ayling for a few years prior to recording ‘6:36’ so we knew what we were walking in to, what was expected of us and what we’d be getting. Ten and a half songs were written before we went to record it, the half song was track 5 – ‘Hello’, which I only had the skeleton of and was knocked into shape the same day we recorded it. I try to get the song writing done and dusted before recording but I don’t need to start taking Valium if it’s recording time and there’s a song or two that isn’t finished, I know if the song’s got anything about it Mitch will know what to do. Using a crowdfunding platform is something that was new to all of us but Silky (owner of the best management company going) had used it for raising the funds for his own bands record so we knew it could work, I guess we just found it a bit hard to believe that we’d be able to flog enough merchandise and pre-orders to raise what was needed but we did, and we did it off three singles which to this day I chuckle to myself about that we pulled it off.
Everyone who contributed to the campaign was personally thanked for making the album possible on the inside of the album cover. Which included each of the 183 backers’ names. Is there anything else you like to say to those people and to the people who have supported the band?
I think for a DIY band to be successful there needs to be a bond between the fans and the band. Obviously, the music is what first creates that bond, but we’ve made it our jobs to reply to every last person that interacts with us online. We’re very aware that it was only a couple of years ago we were texting friends and family to like and share our posts online and now there’s an army of people that literally fight in our defence against the odd troll that throws his/her (usually his) two bobs worth in. We cherish our fans and love them all. We could go and write an album as good as Sergeant Pepper but without the fans it doesn’t mean anything does it?
Music and lyrics take on many interpertation’s depending on the listener which is what is so great about music. As a music fan of a collective of genres I find it fascinating to find out the inspiration behind the songwriter’s lyric or piece of music. Where do you find inspiration and how do you approach writing a song from start to finish?
Bit of a paradox here, but to me the most amazing thing about music is that you can’t put your finger on exactly what it is that’s so good about it. For example, there’s a tune called ‘All I Need’ by The Rifles, the song has a super simple guitar part in it that makes me dream up this image of being young, with your mates and not a care in the world, you know like a sense of nostalgia even though I only heard the tune for the first time a few weeks ago. You cannot plan that as a songwriter or even try to achieve it, it’s just this magic that happens sometimes. As far as my own song writing inspiration goes it’s usually one of two ways… I’ll sit with an acoustic guitar until I find a decent chord pattern then try and wrap a melody around it, or the other way is I’ll just be listening to music then a song will come on where I’ll think – I want to write a song like this, which gives me a goal to hit before I’ve picked a guitar up. Granted, sometimes I might get a bit close to some copyright, but I don’t care, it’s just a song, it’s not like I’ve broken into someone’s house and nicked their telly.
Each of you performed with various other bands before forming together to create Block 33. How did this come about and tell me about the other bands you were in and where they heading in a different musical direction from Block 33?
Well I’d written a handful of songs that I thought were pretty decent so through a mutual friend I met a pair called Dan Spalding and John Finnigan, top geezers and real musicians that ended up getting me a few gigs at local venues in Hertford. It was through them that I met Keeno who was in a band playing moody but brilliant Britpoppy kind of music. They were having problems so Keeno and their drummer at the time jumped on with me, we found a lead guitarist and that’s how BLOCK 33 was formed. For one reason or another we needed a new guitarist and met Andy through John Finnigan’s son Joe, who later introduced us to Jamie which as you know is the band you know today.
Following on from my last question. The band have gained a huge following in a relatively short time, a release of your debut album which has received glowing reviews, A supportive fan base so What is next for the band?
We were always going to go out and tour ‘6:36’ after its release but obviously we can’t at the moment, so plans are on hold for now, in that respect anyway. I am writing the 2nd record as we speak during this lock-down but next up for us is to play the record live in as many different places as we can. There will definitely be a second album, but we’ve only got one eye on that at the moment, touring ‘6:36’ is what we want to be doing.
You have created an online monthly fan subscription where fans receive perks. Tell us a about how it works and how fans can get involved?
We’ve created a fan club for anyone who wants to get first listens on new releases, a monthly video chat with us, gig ticket priority, discount on merch, Christmas drinks with the band and loads more. Like I said in a previous question, building a bond with our fans is important to us so we created this fan club so we could give something back to our biggest supporters. You can join the fan club at www.block33fanclub.co.uk
Due to covid-19 all music venues have been closed and live performances have been cancelled or postponed following government guidelines. This is a challenging time for musician and bands who depend on getting their music heard. How is this effecting the band, and can we look forward to a live performance on social media?
Nothing has changed for us in terms of online presence if anything it has improved because we’re all at home with no distractions. We had our first video chat with our fan club members the other night which was good fun. Sadly, a festival we were due to be playing in Dunoon, Scotland in August has been cancelled which we are gutted about however we understand it had to be done. As things stand our gig at the 100 Club in London is still on schedule for September. I played an acoustic set of originals and covers when the COVID-19 thing started getting serious and I will probably do another one soon.
The band are set to perform at famous London venues which have had many of the music industry greats perform. The 100 club in September 2020 and at The Dublin Castle back in November 2019, how does it feel to be performing on a stage where many of your own idols have performed?
The 100 Club is one of those venues isn’t it? It’s a great achievement for us to be putting on our own gig there but if I’m honest I don’t get too swept up in all that, you can’t can you? As soon as you start going down that road that is when you give a voice to the monkey on your shoulder, you know what I mean? It’ll be a great night, we’ll do everything we can to make sure everyone who’s there remembers it forever, then we’ll be looking at where else we can leave our mark.
As a band its clear you are heavily influenced by the Mod culture. Can you tell us about some of your musical heroes, favourite bands and songwriters that inspire you?
My first memories of being introduced to the mod scene was at the ‘Sunday best’ scooter rally which was always in my hometown of Enfield. They would have loads of bands on which usually included Small Faces tribute band Small Fakers, they’re brilliant. Loads of clothes stalls and that, I loved it! Me and the boys from the pub went every year. It was the clothes that first caught my attention, I was dressing like a mod long before I delved into its history and origins but when I did it started to become a bit of an obsession, I’m an obsessive person, if I’m in to something I’m in it all the way. Steve Marriott and Paul Weller are to me exactly what you want to see at the front of a mod band, impeccable dress sense, great haircuts and vocals that are beautiful but still sound like a geezer. My song writing inspirations go far beyond the mod thing, it’s a bit of luck as well otherwise we’d end up sounding like any other mod band. There’s an ever-growing, long list of bands I like and, in some cases, love but there’s a very select few that make me want to pick up a guitar and write. If we’re going to mention songwriters instead of their bands, I’d have to say Pete Doherty, Paul Weller, John Squire and Ian Brown, Noel Gallagher, Joel Stoker and Lennon and McCartney.
Is there a track from the new album each of you are personally proud of the most and why?
On a personal level it would be very easy for me to suck my own bollocks about chord patterns and lyrics but it’s about more than that. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but I genuinely believed in the early days (Keeno will back me up) that if we could get these songs out to enough people then we’d really have a fair crack at success. I primarily became a songwriter because I wanted to try and make other people feel what I was feeling about certain songs and we have done that with Eye of the Hurricane. It’s not my favourite song of ours but the way other people feel about it isn’t to be ignored, I done what I set out to do with that song so I’d have to say it’s that one I’m most proud of simply because of how our fans feel about it.
Tell us about the bands name and what it means and who came up with it?
The band name was born in a pub called the black horse in Hertford. Me and the original drummer were trying to come up with something decent but in my opinion, aside from the Rolling Stones there is not a good band name out there. Block 33 is a section of the old White Hart Lane, some friends of mine had season tickets in that block and there would usually be a ticket going which was always offered to me. I do not think it is a bad name, it certainly isn’t a good name. Unless you’re going to call yourselves something ridiculous like the diamond studded dildos or whatever then names don’t mean anything do they? They are just that names.
Words by Dan Dodson – lead vocal/rhythm guitar/songwriter of BLOCK 33
Copyright © Mods Of Your Generation, Johnny Bradley 2020, All Rights Reserved. No part of this interview may be reproduced without the permission of the authors.
Pictures © 2020 Dan Dodson & BLOCK 33